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A Proposed Alternative Oath

Current Oath Proposed Oath
[Courts require oath to be stripped of all religious significance.] I, A.B., do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed for evermore; and I do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be given by divine inspiration.[1]
I solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California, I solemnly swear that I am dedicated to the peaceful and reasoned settlement of disputes between men, and between a man and his government,
and am committed to dissuading others from resorting to force or violence,
and that I am not loyal to any foreign State,
and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of an attorney and counselor at law to the best of my knowledge and ability. and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of an attorney and counselor at law to the best of my knowledge and ability.   [no change]

At first glance, the current oath seems so bland and unintrusive. Who could object to it? Let's review.


Two Problems with the Current Oath

Links to Review

It must be Secular. The triumph of Christian values is "abhorrent" to the Supreme Court, "the supreme Law of the Land."

It must be Socialist. The triumph of "Free Market" values is also a threat to the State. The complete denial of the moral legitimacy of the State is incompatible with the concept of a Constitution.

Thus, under no conceivable interpretation can I honestly take the current secular Oath to "support the Constitution" and be consistent to my Theocratic Christian beliefs.

The Bible says an oath is an act of religious worship. Unbelievers were not permitted to take an oath.

There are no goods or services which can only be provided by the State. Belief in the State is belief in socialism.

It must be Meaningless.

Of course, if I could accept a "post-meaning" framework which holds that the oath is ultimately meaningless, I could just ignore the meaning of the words of the oath and take it anyway, joining the ranks of hundreds of thousands - if not millions - of Americans who consider the oath to "support the constitution" a mere "amenity" or "formalism"; who have taken a solemn oath to "support the Constitution" having never even read the Constitution.

The cases cited by the State Bar are agreed on one thing if nothing else: the current Support Oath really doesn't mean much at all. Since the oath is a mere "amenity,"[2] the Court has a very cavalier attitude towards the Constitution and the oath to "support" it. "[A] literal approach" to the oath "is inconsistent with the Court's approach to the 'support' oaths."[3]. The oath calls "simply for an acknowledgment of a willingness to abide by 'constitutional processes of government.'"[4] It is "simply a commitment to abide by our constitutional system . . . ." [5]  All of these are commitments of Christians like Prof. Summers,[6] who nevertheless are held to be unable, as a matter of law, to take the oath "in good faith."

The exclusion of Christians from professions and even American citizenship is ultimately rooted in the secularization of the oath. The Cole Court said the oath was "simply. . . an affirmation of 'organic law'. . . ."[7] But those who took this oath then went on to overthrow our nation's "organic law" and strip these Christian ideals from the public square.

In the 20th century, from Schneiderman to the present, the meaning of loyalty (and virtue) and the rights of the State to assurances of it, have been chipped away until nothing remains. When the "McCarthy Era" was said and done, the Communists had won (with casualties).[8] As a result, "Communist and Nazi alike therefore seem[] to be able to pass the "attachment" standard . . . ."[9] But those who believe in the Law of God are "out."

As a Christian, I refuse to join the "post-meaning" age. I agree with the Framers of the Constitution: Oaths are sacred. But I disagree with the Framers in their belief that the State created by their Constitution would provide law, order, and stability "for the ages" ("Novus Ordo Seclorum"[10]). I seek to eliminate the Constitution and the State it creates by the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who was executed by the State as an anarchist. As more people develop the character of Christ, the State will disappear and civil rights will be secure.

Office-holders should be Christians

Bill Clinton is worse than George III.

The Constitution destroyed Christianity

The Remedy

I would have thought that the State Bar would be much happier allowing me to take the oath I proposed than the one currently required by State Law. It more closely resembles the oaths required before World War II, before Nazis and Communists were given free reign in this country. Allowing religious beliefs to modify the oath is keeping with the spirit of the Constitution. Christians did not "support" the Constitution when it was first proposed. They believed that the "unalienable rights" which God had given to man transcended any particular form of government. The Free Exercise of Religion is one of those rights. My religion requires the taking of Theocratic oaths. The Constitution itself does not require an Attorney to take an oath to support a particular form of civil government.[11] Christians should thus be permitted to take a Theocratic Christian oath to support the legitimate moral interests of the State, without having to support the State itself.

I proposed to the State Bar, first, the addition of the lines struck down by the Torcaso decision. I believe the wording of the oath in the Delaware Constitution (1776) meets the Biblical requirements.

As a Christian, I would be swearing falsely if I affirmed the first half of the current oath. Under no possible interpretation do I "support the Constitution." But I do not object to any of the interests articulated by the State in requiring an oath of some kind. I therefore proposed the following lines, to be substituted for the lines concerning "support" for any constitution.

"Peaceful settlement of disputes"

The Court in Law Students Civil Rights Research Council, Inc. v. Wadmond, 401 U.S. 154 at 166, 91 S.Ct. 720 at 728, 27 L.Ed.2d 749 (1971), declared that the "support oath" assured the government that the applicant is "dedicated to the peaceful and reasoned settlement of disputes between men, and between a man and his government."

But America was built on the violent, revolutionary settlement of disputes between the colonists and their government. Whereas the regulation in Law Students was likely directed against leftists and communists, today the government is worried about militias and abortion-clinic bombers in a "vast, right-wing conspiracy."

Although for nearly ten years I have been a part of a movement widely regarded as "left-wing" (the Catholic Worker), I often attend John Birch Society and "militia" meetings. There I find a growing number on the "right" who, suspecting fundamental problems with the U.S. Government (and seeing the American flag waving on the tanks at Waco), are now unwilling even to say the Pledge of Allegiance. The words of Jefferson -

God forbid that we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion.
What country before, ever existed a century and a half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that his people preserve the spirit of resistance. Let them take arms.[12]

- are summed up on a JBS bumper-sticker: "Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God."

In contrast, while agreeing with the diagnosis of the political "right," I believe that instead of shooting the British, we should have prayed for them.[13] Violent revolution - even that of 1776 - is never justified. Not even against ruthless kings, oppressive parliaments, or "unrepresentative" taxation. Christians do not shoot tax collectors, and therefore cannot "support the Constitution" -- a product of violent revolution against the State.

But if the government truly desires assurances concerning peaceful settlement of disputes, I can surely give them.

"Dissuading Others from Resorting to Violence."

Compare the concerns in the Schwimmer case.[14] The Court said Ms. Schwimmer could not become an American because she was a writer and speaker and might use her skills to persuade Americans not to trust their government.[15] It should be recalled that while courts and legislatures have carefully guarded against resort to force or violence,[16] the use of such force to overthrow an oppressive government is said to be a fundamental right of man (according to the Declaration of Independence) and the exercise of the right to violent revolution was instrumental in the founding of the present constitutional system.[17] Nevertheless, as a "non-violent anarchist," I repudiate violent revolution and am committed to persuading others to obey God's Law.

"Not Loyal to any Foreign State."

Cases concerning the inability of applicants to take support oaths or answer questions concerning political association have also turned on the question of their loyalty to a foreign state.[18] If I am not "loyal" to the American State, it follows a fortiorari that I am not loyal to any other contemporary State!

The oath I have suggested meets all the state's "compelling interests" and satisfies my desire to be true to God's Word.

I think I should be admitted to the Bar with this oath. Your comments or advice would be gratefully appreciated.

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1. Del. Const. art. 22 (adopted Sept. 20, 1776), 1 Del. Code Ann. 117 (Michie, 1975).  [Return to text]

2. Cole v. Richardson, 405 U.S. 676, 685, 92 S.Ct. 1332, 1337; 31 L.Ed.2d 593 (1972).  [Return to text]

3. Ibid, 405 U.S. at 683, 92 S.Ct. at 1337.  [Return to text]

4. Ibid., 405 U.S., at 682, 92 S.Ct., at 1336. Citing Bond v. Floyd, 385 U.S. at 135, 87 S.Ct. at 349, 17 L.Ed.2d 235 (1966).  [Return to text]

5. Ibid., 405 U.S., at 684, 92 S.Ct., at 1337.  [Return to text]

6. In re Summers, 325 U.S. 561, 65 S.Ct. 1307, 89 L.Ed 1745 (1945); reh. den. 326 U.S. 807, 66 S.Ct. 94, 90 L.Ed. 491 (1945).  [Return to text]

7. Cole, above, note 2, 405 U.S., at 682, 92 S.Ct., at 1336. In the space of 2 [S.Ct.] pages, the Court uses the words "simply" or "merely" no less than five times (emphasis added to each occurrence in the notes above). But if obeying America's organic law is such a "simple" task, why have so many been unable to keep their solemn oaths? Perhaps they felt such an obligation was unimportant.  [Return to text]

8. In Whitehill v. Elkins, 389 U.S. 54, 88 S.Ct. 179, 19 L.Ed.2d 228 (1967), Maryland required teachers to affirm the following:

I, ____________, do hereby . . . certify that I am not engaged in one way or another in the attempt to overthrow the Government of the United States, or the State of Maryland, or any political subdivision of either of them, by force or violence. (389 U.S. at 55, 88 S.Ct at 185, 19 L.Ed at 230)

The Supreme Court would hear nothing of such an obviously unconstitutional oath. ("Are you now, or have you ever been Timothy McVeigh?") See the discussion of Schneiderman v. U.S., above, text at note 178.

In striking down an oath which on its face says nothing more than the oath upheld in Cole, dissenting Justice Harlan, joined by Justices Stewart and White, noted, "The only thing that does shine through the opinion of the majority is that its members do not like loyalty oaths." Whitehill, 389 U.S. at 63, 88 S.Ct. at 189, 19 L.Ed.2d at 235.  [Return to text]

9. Levinson, Constitutional Faith, at 148.  [Return to text]

10. The motto on The Great Seal of the United States. See on the reverse of the one-dollar Federal Reserve Note in your wallet, under the All-Seeing Eye atop the Pyramid (that great Christian symbol of liberty [?!?]). Interestingly,

This "reverse seal" was ignored by the government for a century and a half until Henry A. Wallace, Franklin Roosevelt's politically radical Secretary of Agriculture* and resident occult mystic, persuaded the Secretary of the Treasury to restore it to public view by placing it on the back of the one dollar bill, the most common currency unit. This was done in 1935, and remains with us still.
* It was under Wallace's Department of Agriculture, in the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA) that the first major Communist cell in the federal government was formed in 1933, the Ware group. See Allen Weinstein, Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case (New York: Knopf, 1978), ch. 4: "The Ware Group and the New Deal."

G. North, Political Polytheism, above, note 127 at 405 [* - North's footnote.]  [Return to text]

11. California Petition, II.C., "The U.S. Constitution does not require sworn "support" of the Constitution from Petitioner," pp. 22-24; Petition for Certiorari, 16-17. (Citing Cammer v. U.S., 350 U.S. 399, 405, 76 S.Ct. 456, 459 (1956); In re Griffiths, 413 U.S. 717, 728, 93 S.Ct. 2851, 2858, 37 L.Ed.2d 910, 919 (1973).) See also New Hampshire v. Piper, 470 U.S. 274, 283n.15, 105 S.Ct. 1272, 84 L.Ed.2d 205, 212-213n.15 (1985).  [Return to text]

12. The Great Thoughts 209 (G. Seldes, ed., 1985).  [Return to text]

13. Matthew 5:41,44; Romans 13:1-10.  [Return to text]

14. U.S. v. Schwimmer, 279 U.S. 644, 49 S.Ct. 448, 73 L.Ed. 889 (1929).  [Return to text]

15. Discussed in the California petition at 16, text at note 36.  [Return to text]

16. Ibid., at 20, note 51.  [Return to text]

17. Ibid., at 27, note 79.  [Return to text]

18. Pre-American Common Law: Imbrie v. Marsh, 3 N.J. 578 at ---, 71 A2d 352 at 357, 363, 18 ALR2d 241 at 247, 253 (1950)(rival sovereigns);
Revolutionary America [Article VI, Section 3]: Imbrie at A2d 364, ALR2d 255; (England);
Civil War Era: Cohen v. Wright, 22 CalRptr 297 at 299 (1863)(brief for appellant), 307, 310, 311, 330; Cummings v. Missouri, 71 U.S. 277 at 317, 327, 18 L.Ed 356 at 361, 364 (1867); Imbrie v. Marsh at A2d 365, ALR2d 256 (the Confederacy);
Cold War Era: Konigsberg (I) v. State Bar of California, 353 U.S. 252 at 298, 77 S.Ct. 722 at 745 (1957); cf. Barenblatt v. United States, 360 U.S. 109 at 130n31, 79 S.Ct. 1081 at 1095n.31 (1959); cf. Communist Party v. Subversive Activities Control Board, 367 U.S. 1 at 5-9, 13-14, 51-55, 57, 81 S.Ct. 1357 at 1363, 1364, 1365, 1366, 1368, 1387, 1388, 1389, 1390 (1961); Elfbrandt v. Russell, 384 U.S. 11 at 21, 86 S.Ct. 1238 at 1243 (1966); cf. Wilkinson v U.S. 365 U.S. 399 at 401, 404n5, 81 S.Ct 567 at 569, 571n5 (1961)(the Soviet Union);
Present: Imbrie at A2d 354, 355, 371, ALR2d 244, 245, 362; Speiser v. Randall, 357 U.S. 513 at 515-16, 78 S.Ct. 1332 at 1336 (1958).  [Return to text]